As part of highlighting Energy as one of our Center’s key focus areas we talked to Hunter Hunt, CEO of Hunt Consolidated Energy and a member of our Executive Advisory Board, to provide perspective on the importance the energy sector has for Texas and its potential for the U.S.-Mexico relationship.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MISSION FOODS TEXAS-MEXICO CENTER?
I am a big believer that Mexico is a more important part of the United State’s future over the next 50 years than what either country realizes today. There are not enough institutions and organizations focused on the critical issues for the two countries to have as strong a relationship as possible. The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU is a rare exception; its thoughtful approach to highlighting challenges and opportunities for Mexico and U.S. to collaborate for a brighter collective future is refreshing.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ENERGY TO BE A FOCUS FOR THE CENTER’S WORK?
Energy is an important part of all human development, and effective energy policies and approaches in both countries can only help our relationship and advancement. But if the U.S. and Mexico go one step further and coordinate their energy policies together, they can both benefit from the tremendous diversity of resources that the other country possesses. North America truly has a chance to become “energy independent;” to meets its own energy needs. The Center can play a very constructive role in exploring the issues required for this to happen.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE NEXT BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY FOR TEXAS-MEXICO ENERGY INTEGRATION?
I think that the joint-development of renewables and energy storage is the next logical step in Texas-Mexico energy integration. We already have ample natural gas transmission between Texas and Mexico with more on the way. But electric transmission connections are relatively underdeveloped, and renewables on both sides of the border would benefit from more integration. A component of increasing renewable energy production will be the nascent energy storage industry, and this would be another area in which Texas and Mexico would benefit from “comparing notes.” There are many regulatory considerations to building out a more robust bi-national electric grid, but the good news is that the issues are clear and have been addressed with previous interconnections.
TEXAS HAS LARGELY DIVERSIFIED ITS ECONOMY TO MOVE AWAY FROM ENERGY DEPENDENCE. DO YOU THINK ENERGY WILL ALWAYS BE A KEY PILLAR TO OUR STATE ECONOMY, AND IF SO WHY?
It is hard to image Texas without energy playing an important role in the 21st Century. We are blessed with large amounts of natural gas, wind, and solar resources. We already lead the U.S. in wind capacity (and would be 6th in world as a stand-alone country), and we are rapidly closing in on California for solar. As energy evolves and changes in 21st Century due to climate change, public preferences, and costs, Texas should continue in its leadership role not just for the country, but for the world.